Malaria spreading to new regions while millions wasted on vaccines that cannot work for more than 2 years [New Article]
By Stephen Leahy
CHICAGO, U.S., Feb 19 (IPS)
Climate change is bringing malaria to regions of Africa where the disease was previously unknown, researchers report from the conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago this week.
Interestingly, the Arctic, where climate change is happening fastest, is the best place to study how warming temperatures are affecting infectious disease transmission.
[Note: Diseases are expected to increase in proportion to the decline/degradation of natural environment experts at Harvard said in my 2008 article “Doctor” Nature in Danger — Stephen]
Insect-transmitted diseases, primarily malaria, kill 3,000 people in Africa each day, said Andy Dobson of Princeton University in the United States.
Understanding how global warming is altering temperatures and the ecology and ranges of the malaria-transmitting Anopheles mosquito is crucial to understanding the dynamics of how insect-transmitted diseases like malaria will change, Dobson told IPS.
“Ironically, we’re spending huge amounts of money on trying to develop vaccines for malaria but the best possible vaccine we could make wouldn’t last for longer than two years,” he said.
That’s because the natural lifetime of immunity to malaria is perhaps two years and to eradicate malaria using a vaccine would require vaccinating everyone every year because the malaria parasite evolves quickly, he explained.
“We’re not going to be able to do that,” Dobson added.
Instead scientists need to be able to understand and project how and where malaria outbreaks will occur under the altered conditions of climate change. However, there is very little data or research on disease transmission in the field. Rather, the focus has been on developing vaccines and genetic analysis of the malaria parasite and mosquito genome – and that “tells us nothing about transmission”, he said.
“A sad testimony to how the (U.S.) National Institutes of Health and the Gates Foundation spend their money,” Dobson told IPS. Continue reading